By Alfred Olufemi
The African Health System Sustainability index report released in 2021 ranked Nigeria 14th out of 18 African countries. The index, which focused on financing, accessibility and quality of healthcare services, noted that Nigeria scored 42/100 in offering uninterrupted quality-assured services.
Now a partnership is seeking to change the narrative by enforcing standards and relevant laws. The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) says it’s ready to collaborate with the Medical Law Professionals Association (MELPAN) in the enforcement of standards to safeguard the interests of patients as consumers of health services.
MELPAN, a professional body for legal and healthcare practitioners in Nigeria, announced this earlier in the month after an advocacy visit to the FCCPC.
“The visit afforded both teams the opportunity to rub minds on how to tackle the menace of medical malpractice and negligence, exacerbated by patients’ ignorance of their rights, which have continued to mar the health sector,” the group stated.
It also noted that FCCPC Chairman Babatunde Irukera has emphasised the importance of accountability in the health sector.
“Consequence is the greatest modifier of human behaviour, especially professional behaviour. If there is any sector we must get right as a country, it is the health sector,” the FCCPC chairman was quoted as saying.
Irukera lamented situations where people die needlessly as a result of malpractice, sheer negligence and deplorable standards of health services.
In 2020 the FCCPC arraigned a plastic surgeon, Anuoluwapo Adepoju, before a Federal High Court following an investigation into a failed cosmetic surgery that led to a patient’s death.
Speaking with Africa Legal regarding the status of the partnership, Isaac Imo, an official with MELPAN, explained that they are currently still in the paperwork phase with the FCCPC.
He explained that the partnership will help solve the problem of negligence among other issues confronting healthcare service delivery in the country, which will be focal points at the 2022 National Medical Law Conference scheduled for 28-29 November. The conference, themed “Healthcare System in Nigeria: Getting Government to be more responsive under the Law” will be held at the National Judicial institute in Abuja.
The head of the conference publicity committee, Ebenezer Egwuatu, said enforcement of some laws will be dissected in a search for solutions. One example he gave is that of the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshot Act 2017, which waived the police report requirement before a gunshot victim is treated, and which is yet to be fully implemented.
“Section 1 of that law says gunshot victims should be treated with or without police reports, but we still have a situation where, out of ignorance, some police officers and healthcare providers still demand police reports,” he said.
(Legal Africa: www.africa-legal.com/news-detail/protection-for-health-service-users-in-nigeria/)